Family Dentistry

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Occlusal Guards

How can we help you?

Information and education are the keys to good health. Just as we believe in continuing education for ourselves, we recommend that our patients learn about their dental health. We are always happy to discuss your care with you, and we will never perform a procedure until you’ve been informed about the procedure we are treating and have given us your approval to proceed.

If you have a question, take a look at this selection of questions we are often asked about our practice, the services we offer, and dentistry in general. If your question isn’t answered here or if you need more information, you are always welcome to give us a call or send us an email using our convenient online form.

Occlusal Guards

Occlusal guards are customized mouth guards, commonly called night guards, because you wear them during sleep. The team at Family Dentistry of Royal Oak often recommends these as a non-invasive option for treating patients who experience several conditions associated with teeth grinding and jaw clenching. For example, if you grind your teeth at night, you may suffer from bruxism or a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

However, these appliances require maintenance because you wear them so often and for so long.

Tips for Cleaning Your Mouthguard in Royal Oak, MI

Night guards are especially important to clean because your mouth becomes parched while you sleep. Bacteria find this environment exceptionally hospitable, so their growth increases at night. Your occlusal guards are made of a softer polymer for comfort, making them porous. If not cleaned regularly, they can retain bacteria, contributing to gum disease and tooth infections.

We recommend the following steps to maintain your night guard:

  • Thoroughly brush it with a toothbrush like your teeth.
  • Rinse your occlusal guard with cool water.
  • Avoid hot water, which may deform its shape.
  • If recommended by your dentist, soak it in a cleaning solution.
  • Store your mouth guard in a vented container so it dries completely and safely.

We also recommend regular dental visits so we can check your mouth guard for wear and fit. Don’t hesitate to replace an ill-fitting or compromised night guard. If you want to learn more, we encourage our office for a consultation.

An occlusal guard—also called a nightguard—is used to treat conditions like bruxism (grinding and clenching your teeth) and TMJ, or jaw joint issues.

Our dentists customize your nightguards by taking impressions of your mouth. This allows the appliance to work for your unique needs.

For bruxism, the nightguard works by gently separating your upper and lower jaw during sleep. This prevents bruxism during rest and allows you to sleep without worry that you’re grinding down your teeth. When left untreated, bruxism can lead to tooth fractures and even tooth loss.

Signs of bruxism include:

  • Worn teeth
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Migraine headaches

Bruxism can be linked to TMJ, also called TMD—temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This means the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull is not functioning properly.

Signs of TMJ are similar to bruxism as far as pain, but you may also notice a clicking sound in your jaw and even a locking jaw in some cases.

Occlusal Guards in Royal Oak 

For more information on occlusal guards, including an evaluation for bruxism and jaw health, we encourage you to reach out to our dental office to schedule a consultation.

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